3D Modeling Techniques 
IRONCAD vs Solidworks Lesson Eleven
 Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling
 Two Similar Parts and AIDs: Two Files
Bonus: Direct Edit Defined!

When I introduce IronCAD's very flexible design paradigm I have a hard time to get the Pro/e clone users, like Solidworks and other programs, to understand the drag and drop design paradigm.

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I saw some Fusion 360 exercises online and I decided to compare IronCAD. It quickly turned into a study in modeling techniques. I have created many comparisons to Fusion 360, Onshape, Solid Edge, NX, Creo, Catia and Inventor lessons to show the difference between IronCAD and my modeling techniques. I found the presenters working identically wasting massive amounts of time with overly complex constrained sketching procedures. I was so unimpressed that I decided to model the parts or assemblies showing my modeling techniques plus IronCAD's superb design system.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

Many of these modeling techniques can easily be implemented even within their existing system. I call it Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling. Please review a few of the above IronCAD comparison lessons, there are some very stark differences.

Solidworks Mount Lesson 11

While creating 3D models from drawing is the very best way to learn 3D CAD and maybe some design techniques it does not expose the designer to the design flexibility necessary in design. IronCAD is all top down due to the single model environment. Creating mating parts is a cruise. But modeling is just one aspect of a well designed productive 3D CAD system.

Solidworks is a marginal 3D CAD system based on the dated Pro/e (Creo) history based modeling system. I have sold this product years ago and found it, like all of the other Solidworks clones, not productive enough for our engineering department. We use what we sell. That gives us the experience to effectively support our user base.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

IronCAD vs Solidworks and the Pro/e Paradigm

29 Years of 3D CAD Incompatibility - The New Generation of 3D CAD!!

IronCAD vs Solidworks

I would do a video, but I really am not good at it. So I will show you step by step. I will try and get IronCAD support to create one. They are very good.

As with my Ironcad vs Fusion 360 exercises I have found the same problems with Solidworks. The modeling technique is hugely responsible for the level of productivity. Those of you that are only trained in the complex and time consuming constrained sketching world are truly limited by not using the freedom of Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling, that is available in even the most Solidworks-ish of CAD systems. If your designers are designing in these very unproductive and time consuming processes it might be time to review your standard design processes. Don't have any do you?

Let's get started!

You will see with Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based modeling is much more productive and flexible. It gives you a more real world feel to your design process and is a much more pleasurable and productive experience.

We will start with -1 Mount

We set the units to mm

Most of the time you start in IronCAD by dragging and dropping from the catalog but we will start with a sketch on this part.

IronCAD's sketching planes are an integrated part of the feature. So we do not have starting planes. It does have a basic coordinate system with planes but they get more in the way then help.

Using the Extrude Wizard we insert a sketch plane into the scene. It is automatically put at X0Y0Z0. We use the Triball to move it to the correct orientation.

Note: Why does IronCAD call it a scene instead of a workspace? IronCAD was first released as a graphic design program called Trispectives. It still has much of the graphic design functionality. It truly is a wonderful mixture of professional 3D CAD and graphic design, which puts it in a much more flexible category as compared to the very mechanical engineering focused Solidworks clones.

We look directly at the sketch and start defining our profile. We select circle with radius and using the right mouse button to define the circle and a dialog box will come up an let you size the circle.

The left button is explicit and the right button give you the option to set the size of most entities.

I will create a line a set the angle and length to establish the center for then  12mm circle. I show these steps because I do not sketch like the Solidworks clone users.

I will now create the 12mm circle, put in the tangent lines.

I will trim the lines and rotate copy the entities.

We create a reference 110mm horizontal line from the center and create some offsets for the rest of the graphics.

We extend the diagonal line to the mating line.

We are going to put in a 50mm radii since it is not a mating face and will not matter.

I have seen three other Solidworks clone users define a radius using tangent to an arc, it results in a arc that goes out 3 places and looks like the designer didn't think it through, LOL. Tangents do not exist in the real world, once this is done there is no way to inspect it.

Sadly with CNC and non-contact inspection standard drafting standards have been thrown out the window. We now have a bunch of CAD jockeys that have no idea of what parts should be based. All the draftsman are gone so we are entering a new world. 

I sent the image on the left to a customer and the product manager wondered what the lines were. I realized that the tangents are only something, we as CAD designers, know about. So I sent her the image on the right without the tangent lines shown, she completely understood.

I offset the arc and line 10mm and offset the 50mm line and trim and add the block in back. Notice there are no constraint dimension.

We select okay and it automatically creates our extrusion. We set the direction and we are ready for the next step.

I will turn on the catalog, I usually use it hidden but we are going to use drag and drop for the rest of the part.

I drag and drop a block on the back of the part and size it.

We drag and drop a sphere to the center of the boss and size it

We drag and drop a hole block on the lower face of the part and size to trim the sphere.

We drag and drop a hole sphere to the center of the sphere and size it.

Now for the holes. We will drag and drop a hole cylinder to the center of the box and size it.

Using the custom hole feature from the tool catalog we drag and drop the hole on the face of the part.

We then locate the hole using the Triball and again using the Triball we locate and link the other hole. The other hole is shown in purple indicating it is linked.

Using the Triball we link the hole to the center of the top radius and rotate 90 degrees.

We again use the Tribal to locate and link the bottom hole at the center of the lower radius.

We are now ready for the blends. I will close the catalog. I am a bit picky with blends many times if you haphazardly pick faces the blends come in incorrectly.

Here is the view from the other side.

Now to create a similar part -2

First thing we do is copy and paste the part. I renamed the first part -1 and the new part -2 and suppress, we can do this because IronCAD is a single model environment.

We delete the blends it is much easier to reinsert them than edit them. We also delete the block.

We select the main extrusion. You can see the sketch, it an integral part of the feature.

We select "Edit Cross-Section"

We edit the sketch

Select okay and we are for the next steps

We use the Triball to move the holes. The Triball is used throughout the design process. You can see the other linked holes referenced in purple.

We drag and drop a block, locate and size it.

Using the Extrude Wizard create the next sketch plane and set to add. The Extrude Wizard is one of the more use features especially when creating mating parts. We are not going to create an arc tangent here we will put the blend in in the next step.

We select okay and the extrusion is automatically made we just size it and add the blend.

We now need to fill the small space on the inside. Again we use the Extrude Wizard.

We select okay and size the extrusion. You can see the extrusion is in the sphere.

We just move the extrusion above the hole sphere in the history.

We are ready for the blends

Almost forgot the holes. We select the holes and turn on the Triball, we can move the Triball only if we hit the space bar, I move it to the center of the main hole. I rotate it the 15 degrees.

Add the blends and we are done.



I thought it would interest you to make the changes by direct edit. Now this is a very simple model and you could easily recreate with just using features. But I thought this would be fun. IronCAD is the only integrated history/direct edit based system. NX and Solid Edge have given it a try but fall far short due to their dependence on previous history so let's take a look.

You can see in this article the extensive experience I have with direct edit.

Using Multiple 3D CAD Systems

I have exported -1 as a STEP file. First thing we do, like when just modifying a part is to delete the blends. This may take a bit of investigation. I found these were the first blends to delete and the rest fell into place.

With that done we will delete the wall. We select the faces and with a right click of the mouse button a dialog box comes up and we select delete.

Now we have to isolate the boss and the spherical shape. You have to study the part and do a few trials and errors until you come up with the correct solution. I have created a sketch that will minimize the extraneous features and of course move our selection outside the blend tangent on the base.

We select the faces we want to remove and with the right mouse button select delete.

You now can see we are down to the sphere and boss.

Now we just window select all of the faces that make up the sphere and boss and rotate 15 degrees

Now we have the feature oriented to the new position.

We move the back face 10mm. IronCAD has 4 different stages as you click, first is yellow that indicates the assembly, then blue which indicates part, yellow again that indicates feature than green that indicates faces.

I only go down to feature to move the front face 10mm

We now select the faces that make up the holes and we find we can convert them to intellishapes. Many times you can take shapes positive or negative and make them into editable features.

We will then move them into place with Triball

I want to move this face but I cannot with out it being altered also I cannot delete it so I will have to drag and drop a hole block locate and size it.

Now for the base. We will make the sketch. You can see the boss sticks out a bit. Don't worry I can fix that later

We select okay and pull it into place. You can see the extraneous feature that sticks out no problem we will suppress the new feature an move the face back a  few millimeters.

We just create a sketch and extrude and add the blends. Oops I see we have a problem with a feature extending into the sphere I think we can fix that by just editing the sketch.

Select okay and everything is fine now piece in the middle.

We create the sketch.

Size the extrusion and ooops another small problem

We just drag and drop a hole sphere and size it.

Now for the blends. Hmm just a little bit of final tweeking and everything is finished

You can see both the modeled part and the direct edit of a dumb model are identical

Now we are ready for the AIDs (drawings)

We have two files for the two parts and AIDs.

Here is -1 MOUNT detailed

When we create sheet 2 and set it to configuration -2 MOUNT

This is another stark examples of how Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling utilizing IronCAD's drag and drop of smart editable intellishapes from a catalog and the use of the Triball can increase productivity easily 5X. I usually estimate 5X increased productivity in conceptual design and 10X in changes, and I believe I am being conservative. IronCAD can edit most of the Solidworks clone parts and assemblies faster than it can be done in the native CAD system.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

Five Functions that Increase 3D CAD Productivity!!

Please review the earlier exercises.

IronCAD vs Solidworks

You can see more on modeling techniques here.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

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